On most days that we start our work, and fire up our devices, we find many messages waiting for us. Some messages are about tasks to be completed ASAP, some point to the follow-ups that we have to make, some ask us to review things and schedule the work while some are ‘for information’ only.
Since these tasks and alerts are not organised we tend to either respond to them in a first in first out order or spend a lot of time in sifting through them to determine which ones to take up first. For example, the first decision is what to look at first – emails or chat messages or application notifications or voicemails or shared documents or something else. This becomes increasingly disruptive as the number of tools increases. Over time it becomes part of our habit and we reflexively download emails as we switch on our devices. And this continues even after substantial investments in tools to help reduce the influx of emails and organise work.
The tools that we use are expected to help us work ‘smart’, make sure we don’t drop anything of value, be more productive. However, in reality so many messages from different tools only distract us. We cannot focus on any one task on hand as these tools constantly push their own alerts and we tend to respond to tasks as they come in without giving adequate consideration to their urgency or importance.
Does it happen to you as it happens to me sometimes? Let me give you an example of what I mean. I am reviewing one important ‘project plan’ and a mail with a catchy headline jumps at me or I receive a connection request from LinkedIn. I cannot suppress the curiosity and open the mail which triggers a set of thoughts and actions and I completely forget about the ‘project plan’ that I am expected to have reviewed.
We are tackling two problems here, how to consolidate all tasks and messages from different applications at one place and how to prioritise them.
SPOTLight – Sigmify’s Prioritization and Organization Tool, inspired by Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix helps you identify Urgent and Important tasks.
- Do: Tasks that are urgent and important should be performed immediately. They should reduce overtime as they should be handled even before they become urgent.
- Delegate: There are some tasks which are to be urgently but they are not important. They are more of a routine matter, more often hygiene factors which must be done.
- Plan: These are important matters which need quality time. The time on them should be increased overtime.
- Eliminate: These neither urgent nor important timewasters which should be eliminated
Sigmify provides you an easy way to tag your transactions so that they sit in the appropriate buckets. It does so using AI algorithms incorporated in Sigmify. The more you use Sigmify, the more it learns about what is important to you and what is not. When you switch on the SPOTLight, Sigmify sifts and sorts your work and suggests tasks that may be urgent, important, both or neither. This helps you focus on the right things in a timely manner.
Some tips I learnt over the years and follow to prioritise the work and increase the productivity include:
- For every task decide the goal. If it contributes to the long-term objective of the organization and part of the plan, tag it as important.
- Take up important tasks before they become urgent.
- Often important tasks throw some challenges. Anticipate, accept and be ready to tackle them.
- Overcome the tendency to pick up easy and trivial tasks.
- Try and automate routine, recurring tasks. The initial investment in them is worth making.
- Schedule cycles of productive hours in which do not allow any distractions.
How do you prioritise your work? I would love to hear from you and learn from your experience!